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January 6, 2014

2014 Draft Prep and You

A Preview

by Bret Sayre

There is no such thing as a perfect draft or auction. That’s just life. There will be at least a player or two you wish you grabbed a round earlier or spent a dollar more on, and there will be a handful of guys you picked who will look like mistakes when your roster is finalized. And that’s in the best of scenarios. In fact, when people ask for general draft day advice, that one thing is the most important point I can possibly get across: You will make a mistake, and you will realize it was a mistake while you’re still in the draft room. At that point, you’ll have two choices: dwell on it and try to “get it back” or move on and stick to your strategy. The latter is the way to go every time.

There are not many feelings better than going into your draft or auction knowing that regardless of how things shake out, you’re fully prepared. And that’s exactly what we’re going for this offseason here at Baseball Prospectus, whether you are in a redraft, keeper, or dynasty league: getting you fully prepared for the 2014 season. There will be rankings, strategic analysis, mock drafts, rankings, new podcasts, chats, sleepers, busts, rankings, prospect advice, cool infographics, mailbags, and more rankings. So let’s go through all of this, starting with the rollout of our position-by-position series.

As promised back in November when I wrote my off-season preview, we at Baseball Prospectus will be providing fantasy rankings like the site has never seen before. Two months ago, the plan was still in its infancy, but with all systems scheduled for takeoff in a week and a half, it’s time to go through exactly what you can expect when you click that bookmark (or manually type out www.baseballprospectus.com, if you’re into the whole brevity thing).

Starting the week of January 13, we’re going to be marching through a position a week, beginning with catchers and ending with relievers during the first week of March. While not all of our content during that time will be positionally focused, the vast majority of it will be focused on the task at hand. These are the items you can expect for each position, as written by your favorite Baseball Prospectus fantasy analysts:

The State of the Position
This article will kick off each week of coverage and take a wide-eyed view of the position heading into the current season. It will cover the overall depth and categorical makeup of the position, where the position is headed in the future, what our preferred strategy is in different sized leagues, among other things.

2014 Tiered Rankings with Infographic
These rankings should speak for themselves, but as an added bonus, new BP fantasy team member Mauricio Rubio will be crafting fun infographics to give a visual feel to where the value will be coming from in each set of positional rankings.

Three-Year Rankings
Here’s where we start to have a little fun. These rankings are going to be targeted at keeper league owners, and will rank based on overall three-year value. Want to see how Matt Harvey compares with Patrick Corbin over the next three seasons? Or how Byron Buxton stacks up against Austin Jackson? You’ll find out soon enough.

Dynasty League Rankings
This set of rankings will go very deep (50 for single positions, 125 for outfielders and 200 for starting pitchers) and are designed for leagues where you keep forever without penalty—and will feature everyone from MLB veterans to prospects in short-season ball all in a single, concise list.

Prospect Profiles
These will not be rankings, but more of an introduction to the next wave of talent that will hit the major leagues at a given position. We’ll go into who these players are and when/how they can potentially help you.

Staff Posts (Players to Target/Avoid)
We will have two posts per week where all of your favorite BP fantasy writers contribute the guy they will be targeting at his current draft position and the one they will be forgoing at his likely price. They’ll look and feel like the Lineup Card entries that you are very familiar with from the non-fantasy world.

Outside of the positional landscape, there will be other lists of note over the next two months because everyone loves lists:

  • Top 50 Players for First-Year Dynasty Drafts (week of January 6)
  • Top 30 Prospects Outside U.S. Professional Baseball (mid-January)
  • Top 100 Fantasy Prospects (mid-February)
  • Top 500 Dynasty Overall Rankings (mid-February)

On top of that, we’ll be bringing back one of my favorite items from last pre-season—Mike Gianella’s weekly-updated bid limits for AL-only, NL-only, and mixed leagues. To get a better sense of how great these lists are, check out the first one from last season.

The off-season coverage will also go well beyond just rankings. We’re going to have three different types of expert mock drafts over the course of the next month and a half. There will be one snake and one auction, but on top of those, we’ll also have an expert mock prospect draft. In that, fantasy and prospect experts will converge into one arena to draft a 10-man dynasty league farm team with first-hand analysis from those involved.

And when some of these same experts get together for the real thing, we’ll be there to cover it as well. Between LABR and Tout Wars, among others, the BP staff will analyze the results to see who really puts their money where their internet mouths are and those of us who will be participating will discuss what we did and how/why we did it.

The fantasy analysis is also going to extend beyond the written words on the site itself. Later this month, we will be starting up two new BP Fantasy podcasts for your listening consumption. Mike Gianella and I will co-host a new weekly podcast where we take deeper dives into the some of the latest water cooler fantasy topics. Additionally, Ben Carsley, Craig Goldstein and I will be starting another weekly podcast—this one focusing 100 percent on long-term leagues. So you dynasty leaguers out there will finally have a podcast that is always speaking your language, both on the major league and minor league side. We’re also very happy to have Mauricio Rubio behind the glass for these labors of love, as he brings actual podcast production experience to the table—which is a real plus. And in case you’re worried that the TINSTAAPP podcast (and yes I’m aware of the double up) wasn’t enough of Paul Sporer’s sexy internet voice, he’ll be a frequent guest on both podcasts, so his analysis will not go unrecorded.

Finally, for all of the questions that remain unanswered by the material described above, the fantasy team will host one chat per week at Baseball Prospectus and another on Twitter. When March rolls around, those numbers are going to double. And if you can’t wait until the next fantasy chat, or want to ask a specific writer a question, just go to our Contact Us page and select BP Fantasy Team (or the specific extension you are looking for) to shoot us your query. Some of your questions will show up on our mailbags, which will pick back up when the questions do.

Hopefully, after reading about 1,300 words worth of promises, you’re even half as excited to read this as we are to produce it. And if you’re not already a BP subscriber, this is the perfect time to sign up with that money your weird aunt gave you for the holidays. Sure, she doesn’t stop asking you when you’re going to get married, but at least there’s a check, right?

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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